iNeta – Platform to help citizens connect with their local leaders
With the advent of online platforms, a lot of industries have seen middle men disappear. Brands talk directly with their consumers and get feedback. Now, it’s the turn of politicians to have the opportunity to connect with voters directly and influence them with good work.
iNeta.in, founded by Akram Khan and Ankur Srivastava aims to build the bridge between voters and local MLA’s by having a common platform to discover issues and track post-election progress. Both Akram & Ankur are Engineers and have done MBA from Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai. Ankur works for a top IT outsourcing firm in Noida.
We catch up with Akram to understand more about the vision & plans ahead for iNeta:
Tell us about the idea behind iNeta. What prompted you to create this platform?
Thought came in 2007 when we were discussing politics and the general state of affairs. We thought new age communication should be used for interacting with people whom you have elected. We found the whole process of meeting leaders and telling them about the issue very cumbersome and wanted a platform so that we can connect with the leaders.
When is the startup launched and what kind of traction has it seen so far? How are you planning to promote it to the larger audience?
The startup was launched on 2nd October 2013, we have been promoting it among peers and colleagues and the response has been good so far. On twitter we have got a Rajya Sabha MP, and a couple of journalists following us as of now. Our tweets have been RT/ Favorite’d by Twitter Handles of AITMC, BJP Rajasthan, INC_Manifesto (Congress’ manifesto official handle), Derek O’ Brien (Quiz master and AITMC member)
To take it forward to the larger audience we are planning to do the following :-
1) sms module where people can know about the contestants of their constituencies by sending sms.
2) We would be creating a blog and introducing our website in our Facebook and Google+ groups and other online forums. Later on we might go for online advertisements as well.
Tell us the 3 things you’d like to achieve with this startup.
1) More informed voting (on the lines of corruption, development, and other qualities)
2)Post election we want to have the manifesto checklist of each constituency and let people mark a promise made in manifesto as complete or incomplete. We will have a progress bar which will show how many people have marked it as compete.
3) People can raise issues and get it answered by the leader.The idea behind ‘issues’ is that, people list out their issues and then other people having common issue vote up on the issue. Once the issue is liked by enough people it will make sense for the leaders to address it especially leaders at the local level like MLA.
How is iNeta funded? Take us through the challenges you have faced in startup journey so far.
iNeta is bootstrapped. The problem was scattered nature of data. Getting data in a legible form was a bit of a challenge there were multiple sources of data and to transfer that data in the forms of charts was a challenge.
In India, Politics is a big mess, and the politicians more often than not are seen in a bad light. Why do you think, that a politician would come to a website, and offer to respond to the people’s queries over there? As how things go in India, there are lot of offline activities that can be done to loot the vote bank?
Yes, Politics is a big mess in India and politicians are not accountable to the citizens. We are therefore trying to build that bridge, by making a direct connect between the politicians and citizens.
1) The users on our site will not be followers of a particular political party like in that of Social-Media pages of various political parties. Instead they would comprise of followers of various political parties and fence-sitters too. This would be an online platform for the Parties and leaders to connect with fence-sitters and followers of other political parties and give them a chance to create goodwill with them.
2) We have contacted few local MLAs and they have shown interest in the concept
3) When a particular political party or leader engages directly with citizens on a public platform, it will compel other parties/ leaders to join in as they might be losing on to their potential voters.
TTP’s take on iNeta
The concept looks good on paper and has got some initial traction in twitter,which is encouraging. The portal currently lists political leaders and parties and holds a lot of static information. As per the plans mentioned by iNeta team, the services for leader-voter interaction should be rolled out sometime soon. With the likes of Narendra Modi using Social Media to its fullest, it is practical to think that our local leaders would use iNeta to connect with their voters. The future of this Startup would depend on how well the political parties lap up the product and use it for their election times.